History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth (short form of June Nineteenth) is the oldest and most widely observed observance of the emancipation of slavery in the United States. It is also called Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, etc., and is observed annually on the 19th of June.
During the American Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing more than three million slaves in Confederate states. However, it took two and a half years for the news to reach African Americans in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers commanded by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, carrying news that the war had finished and the slaves were now independent. Juneteenth is the lengthiest African American holiday. It has become a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee had retreated two months earlier in Virginia at Appomattox Court House, but slavery had remained virtually untouched in Texas—that is, until U.S. General Gordon Granger stepped on Texas and read General Orders No. 3 – “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979, and several others followed this throughout the years. Congress passed an act in June 2021 designating Juneteenth as a national holiday, which President Biden enacted on June 17, 2021. The day is also observed outside of the United States, with groups in a lot of nations using it to commemorate the abolition of slavery and to honor the culture and accomplishments of African Americans.
Top 10 Travel Destinations Where Juneteenth Was Celebrated
From enslaved ancestors’ journey to liberation to the first celebration of Juneteenth as a national holiday, it is an occasion to recognize and appreciate more than 400 years of endurance. There are many ways to observe Juneteenth all over the country, whether it’s at a music event, a parade, a picnic, or a rally. Here are some of the most memorable and intriguing Juneteenth celebrations that took place around the US this year.
1. Galveston, Texas
What could be the better place to commemorate Juneteenth than the birthplace of it? The first celebration of the festival took place in 1866 in Galveston, and it has remained a part of history ever since. Galveston’s Juneteenth celebrations this year included a variety of activities across the weekend, starting from a free webinar on June 15 where the stories about the beginning of this celebration had reiterated.
The Emancipation Celebration, including a gospel choir and award presentation, took place on June 17 at The Grand 1894 Opera House. On June 18, there was a parade repleted with floats and marching bands. The Galveston Island Juneteenth Festival took place on the island’s coast at night. Reedy Chapel in Galveston, which was founded in 1848 as an African American chapel for enslaved people, had also commemorated its history with an Emancipation March on June 19, which reenacted the inaugural Juneteenth celebrations.
2. Washington D.C.
Juneteenth has a strong history in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People Campaign hosted a Solidarity Day demonstration on the National Mall on June 19, 1968. The Juneteenth celebrations this year were bustling with activity. Several events were being held at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, including a live panel discussion. On the Juneteenth weekend, the National Archives displayed the original Emancipation Proclamation as well as General Order No. 3. A family day was held at the museum, with kid-friendly activities and arts and crafts.
In the heart of Washington, D.C., artists like Pharrell & Friends, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Usher, T.I., Tyler, the Creator, Chloe x Halle, and others performed. The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballethnic Dance Company, Collage Dance Collective, and other dancers from across the country have performed as part of the Kennedy Center’s Reframing the Narrative program, which ran from June 14 to 19, showcasing the artworks of Black ballet.
3. Atlanta, Georgia
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace is the place to be in Georgia for Juneteenth celebrations, with free events and concerts aplenty, including an evening with author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, who introduced his new children’s book, Goodnight Racism, at Agnes Scott College. The 10th Annual Juneteenth Atlanta Parade, which marched down Decatur Street and onto Marietta Street before terminating near Centennial Olympic Park, was open to the public. After that, people were headed to the Juneteenth music festival for live music, entertainment, games, and refreshments. Juneteenth 2022: Jubilee on the Lawn, hosted by the Atlanta History Center, was also a celebration of the holiday.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Historic Oakland Cemetery, which includes the gravesites of notable figures such as Carrie Steele Logan, the founder of Atlanta’s first African-American orphanage, and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African-American mayor.
4. Fort Worth, Texas
Opal Lee, the black activist from Fort Worth, Texas, spearheaded the effort to make Juneteenth a national holiday. She began a walking campaign in 2016 at the age of 89, starting in her birthplace of Fort Worth and ending in Washington, D.C., with the hopes of having Juneteenth acknowledged as a federal holiday. Lee walked 2.5 miles every day to represent the years it took for Black Texans to be free after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 17, 2021, she was present as President Joe Biden announced laws making Juneteenth an official holiday.
Opal’s Walk for Freedom or visiting the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to see the new exhibit “Black Every Day” took place on June 18. The show, which included photographs by well-known photographers such as Gordon Parks and James Van der Zee, portrayed everyday Black life through the lens of photographs from the previous century. The “I AM JUNETEENTH Festival” was also held in the city on June 18, where visitors could enjoy food, music, and family-friendly activities.
5. Los Angeles, California
This weekend in the Los Angeles region, there were plenty of Juneteenth celebrations. There were many downtown events like “Thank You Very Much: A Juneteenth Comedy Show,” which features comedians like Chris Spencer (Black-ish) and Chinedu Unaka (Insecure), as well as music concerts from artists like Grammy award-winning jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater at Santa Monica’s 30th annual Juneteenth celebration. The celebration at the Hollywood Bowl on June 19 was one event to keep an eye on.
That event included performances by Earth, Wind & Fire, Jhené Aiko, and Khalid, and covered genres such as jazz, gospel, hip-hop, soul, and R&B. The Re-Collective Orchestra has also performed there, making it the first time in the Hollywood Bowl’s 100-year history that an all-Black symphonic orchestra has performed onstage.
Baltimore is a bustling port city rich in seafood, culture, and African-American history. Despite the fact that slavery did not stop in Maryland until 1864, the city of Baltimore had the biggest Black community in the 1860s. It’s no wonder that many of the Juneteenth events taking place throughout town are music-related, given the city’s ties to so many renowned musicians.
The 45th Annual AFRAM Festival, one of the largest African American festivals on the East Coast, returned to its traditional two-day format on June 18-19. This 745-acre urban sanctuary in Baltimore City’s Druid Hill Park attracts over 100,000 visitors each year! Visitors have enjoyed live music from performers such as Ne-Yo and The O’Jays, as well as fashion and food, over the Juneteenth weekend.
The Eubie Blake Cultural Center’s Juneteenth Kwanzaa Celebration commemorated both Juneteenth and the Kwanzaa ideal of Ujima, which signifies shared responsibility and work. Visitors enjoyed poetry and storytelling, as well as dance and art performances.
Many great Black figures have called Chicago home, including Mae Jemison, Ida B. Wells, and John H. Johnson, and there were plenty of Juneteenth celebrations planned each year. A Juneteenth BBQ & Block Party was held at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the country’s oldest independent African American museum, including food, live music, and a sewing exhibition and workshop.
The 1865 Fest in Garfield Park, which honors Black military men and fathers via educational programs, family activities, musical performances, and the Congo Square Theatre’s 2022 Festival on the Square were two more events worth attending. The theme this year was “Homecoming,” which included live music and theatrical readings to explore healing and happiness in the Black community.
8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia Museum of Art were lit up in red, black, and green, the colors of the Pan-African flag, in recognition of Juneteenth in Philadelphia. Visitors were able to observe floats, bands, and dancing troupes making their way down to Malcolm X Park, where the Juneteenth Festival is held, at the Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade.
In addition, a variety of Juneteenth celebrations was kicked off the 16-day Wawa Welcome America festival’s countdown to Independence Day. The Juneteenth Block Party at the African American Museum featured music, food, and line dancing. With online registration, the museum also offered free entrance.
9. Oakland, California
Oakland, California, was previously the headquarters of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In honor of Juneteenth, the city staged a number of activities commemorating the Black community’s struggles and triumphs. The 10th annual Pan African Wellness Fest, which has featured meditation, yoga, food, and art installations at Lake Merritt Amphitheater, kicked off Afrocentric Oakland’s Juneteenth Weekend on June 18.
On June 19, the 10th annual Fam Bam X – Juneteenth Edition, featured family-friendly activities, Pan-African vendors, and live music.
10. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Every year, the historic home of Black Wall Street hosts a free weekend-long Juneteenth Festival along Greenwood Avenue, loaded with concerts, food, and entertainment, as well as wellness workshops and interactive art exhibits. The three-day Juneteenth festival, which took place from June 16 to 18 this year included a block party, art displays, Friday night, Saturday night, workshops, and yoga.
Last year, attendance surpassed 50,000 over the course of one weekend, demonstrating the importance of this historic festival has returned to the African-American community on Greenwood Avenue, Tulsa. The City of Tulsa officially recognized Juneteenth as a city holiday and the Tulsa Juneteenth Event as a city festival, thanks to the work of this festival and the community’s support.
If you missed the Juneteenth Festival this year and want to celebrate it in the future, this holiday guide from 456Lifestyles will be a bible for your vacation and celebration. There are some must-have products you should consider having at the latest to take the full amusement of the festival. Here are these-
1. Weber Summit S-460 Built-In Natural Gas in Stainless Steel Grill
2. Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera
3. Holy Stone HS710 Drones with Camera